SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with George Deglin, Co-founder and CEO at OneSignal

George Deglin, Co-founder and CEO at OneSignal takes us through OneSignal’s journey through the years and key highlights on the company’s recent funding from CRM leader HubSpot while sharing a few market-ready tips for B2B sales teams:

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Hi George, we’d love to hear about your journey through the years…and more about the OneSignal platform? How has it evolved since its inception?

There’s a really interesting back story to how we founded OneSignal. The idea of the company was essentially born out of frustration during the time when my cofounder and I were running our  prior  business venture – a mobile game studio called Hiptic Games. As game developers, we were frustrated with existing push notification tools that were not developer friendly and did not give us a good way to re-engage users and bring them back into the game. User retention is a huge focus for game developers, so with a lack of existing solutions, we built our own push notification system to address user re-engagement and retention. Quickly, we realized the tremendous opportunity that comes with addressing the market gap in that we could build an easy, developer-friendly push notification system that can be utilized by any size company.

This idea evolved into what eventually became the OneSignal platform, which was designed specifically to address the pain points of the developer community. Since those early days, we’ve worked to make notifications and customer messaging more accessible and reliable by providing a fast, marketer and developer-friendly  tool that enables businesses of any size to better engage their customers and scale their businesses.

Today, OneSignal is the customer messaging platform of choice for over 1.3 million developers  and marketers and powers messaging for hundreds of thousands of mobile applications, as well as more than 70% of sites on the internet that have adopted push notification technologies. Our powerful multi-channel platform enables one million businesses to deliver over eight billion messages daily.

How are you seeing demand for customer messaging platforms change in today’s time? What are some top predictions in your view that will drive adoption of these tools in the future?

Customer messaging platforms have changed the way brands communicate with consumers and keep them engaged, and also how consumers communicate with brands. Messaging is now a critical part of the user experience, and personalization will be critical to engage and retain users. Brands need an easy way to implement these messaging tools into their apps, shops, and websites, which is why we’ve seen such a high demand for customer messaging platforms in today’s time.

Forrester Research released a report last year predicting that consumers will receive a huge wave of messages in 2021, however, it’s already evident that increasing the volume of messaging alone is not the key to building a loyal customer base. As brands seek to develop direct relationships with consumers, I believe that there will be an even higher demand for a comprehensive messaging suite, including in-app messaging, push notifications and SMS, that makes it easier for marketers to drive intelligent, personalized, multi-channel messaging campaigns.

When it comes to the implementation of messaging suites, there is a growing demand for low-code and no-code solutions that make it significantly easier for developers to add customer communication tools into their existing marketing stack. Ease of integration will be the key to driving increased adoption of customer messaging tools that provide a comprehensive solution to engaging and retaining customers.

We’d love to hear more about OneSignal’s recent investment from HubSpot?

HubSpot and OneSignal share a lot of cultural similarities as product-led, high-growth businesses and we continue to learn from our new friends and investors at HubSpot. Raising and partnering with HubSpot has allowed us to extend our reach to further democratize customer messaging, and we’re excited at the joint offerings we have built and will continue to build for developers and marketers.

This funding marks a very strong vote of confidence from HubSpot, and we look forward to  building integrated products for a community of customer-oriented developers. There is a clear product, customer, and strategic synergy between our organizations.

With the new investment, our goal is to extend the breadth and reach of our product integration with HubSpot, scale our joint go-to-market functions, and expand our collective capabilities, especially around mobile engagement.

How will sales automation tools and marketing automation tools that help drive seamless communication for customers and within teams evolve in future?

I expect to see two major trends in the world of sales and marketing automation tools – omni-channel messaging, and data-driven personalization. As it stands now, customer data can often become siloed in different departments, platforms, and databases. When that data isn’t organized and updated in a centralized platform, it’s difficult to use that information to draw insights, drive marketing strategy, and personalize user communication. Therefore, data unification is going to be a critical part of the marketing automation process. Combining separate data sources into one, powerful platform makes it easier to see the “big picture” with regard to user preferences and engagement behavior.

What are some top best practices you’d like to share for teams revisiting their sales automation marketing automation stack in 2021?

You want to be the company that sends personalized messages to customers at the times they want to see them through the channels they want to receive them. And that can vary greatly by user, product, and lifecycle stage. Companies now have more data on their users than ever before which, if used strategically, can help them craft messages that are truly customized to their users’ — well beyond just including “Hi [first name]” in their emails.

But just knowing your users’ activity and behaviors isn’t that helpful unless you can find a way to apply that data in an automated and meaningful way. User attributes such as subscription status, cart abandonment history, browsing and purchase behavior, and other user metrics can translate into key segmentation decisions. We’ve seen that push notifications sent to targeted segments have a 50% higher click-through rate than messages sent without the use of segmentation, so this level of targeting can have a meaningful impact on the success of a campaign. Furthermore, the use of pre-set, rich media templates, and strategically setting up how you prompt for opt-ins, are all things to consider as part of the automation process. Correctly identifying what and how to automate will pay huge dividends when it comes to reaching, engaging and retaining your most loyal customers.

What are some platforms (social media / email / etc) that you feel sales teams and sales people in general need to be actively using as part of their sales process? A few sales technologies that help drive efforts here?

Especially during the pandemic, collaboration tools like Slack and Zoom have been absolutely critical to our business. We operate at a scale that’s unusual for a company of our small size, so we have to be really good at communicating across the team to make sure we are able to all move quickly and stay on the same page. On the sales side specifically, a few of our go-to daily tools are Outreach (which brings a flavor of marketing automation to salespeople to help reduce some of the tedious daily email prospecting tasks), Troops (which automates updates between Salesforce and Slack – something that’s critical for a Slack-dependant organization like OneSignal), and (a key tool for our sales management team providing call recording and analytics, which is critical to sales and customer success rep onboarding, performance management and coaching, training, etc. – especially during the pandemic while we’re all working remotely). As you can see, there’s a strong emphasis on communication and automation tools.

A few thoughts on what you feel today’s sales, marketing and business leaders need to do differently to help them stand out from the crowd!

Consumer behaviors are now forever changed. Our usage of remote communication tools such as Facetime, Zoom, Slack has skyrocketed. We are increasingly becoming comfortable consuming digital entertainment, shopping online, and ordering everything from food to services via our smartphones. Adopting new technologies used to take years; however, COVID-19 has collapsed a typical five to ten-year cycle into just one year. It’s both an exciting and daunting time for marketing and business leaders. To stand out from the crowd, I believe we can do two things:

  • Make investing in digital marketing and messaging tools a top business priority. Given new consumer behaviors and the rapid pace of change, just having a website and email list are inadequate. To thrive, you must have a great mobile web compatible site, add additional messaging channels (e.g. sms if applicable, push, in-app), incorporate video to tell your business story, and have a cohesive message across all digital channels. Anything less limits your addressable market in a digital-first economy.
  • Focus on customer retention over acquisition. While many businesses are in the race to reach as many new customers as possible, few actually retain their users well. I would argue that increasing repeat visitors is far more cost-effective and easier than acquiring new visitors. The end goal is not getting more traffic to land on your site or mobile app, but rather to hone in on building more engaged relationships with users who have already expressed interest.

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OneSignal is the market-leading customer messaging and engagement solution, offering mobile and web push notifications, in-app messaging, SMS, and email. OneSignal’s multi-channel platform enables one million businesses to deliver over eight billion messages daily. OneSignal helps businesses of all sizes provide a seamless messaging experience to create meaningful customer connections.

George Deglin is Co-Founder & CEO of OneSignal, a multi-channel customer engagement platform. With over a decade of experience engineering software products and mobile games, George was previously CTO for Uversity, a college social networking startup backed by Founders Fund and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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